(This tale appears as a bonus story in Oregon Coast Christmas Tales if you buy direct from Nestucca Spit Press. Please consider making a purchase of the book here or on Amazon and supporting an independent Oregon publisher.)
It was a month before Christmas. Santa sat at a table in his North Pole lodge and read a card from Heat Miser. It had been enclosed inside a small package with a post mark from Yaquina Bay, Oregon.
I know you’ve suffered from severe depression in recent months and I think this magic mushroom candy bar might help you with that. Let me know.
PS: Be sure to eat it when you’re outside doing something in nature. That’s the key.
PS 2: Come visit me and Snow anytime you want. The Oregon Coast and the ocean will treat you right. We’ve got something wild cookin’ here.
Santa set the card down on a table. He picked up the candy bar for closer inspection. It was wrapped in cellophane. He tore off the plastic and sniffed the bar. It smelled vaguely of chocolate and coconut, a damn homemade Mounds bar! He loved Mounds, especially dipped in fine scotch.
What good mischief was the Heat Miser up to? Magic mushrooms? Was this candy bar intended as some kind of temporary escape and short-term remedy from the debilitating sadness that had gripped him the past year and gradually drove him to total disillusion and stasis?
Santa knew he damn well needed something. Indeed, he was plunged into a deep, deep, black depression and it was getting dangerous for him. Mrs. Claus had died from pancreatic cancer almost a year ago; the polar ice was melting all around him; Trump was still frothing in office; and the elves were threatening a revolt if they couldn’t continue to make yo yos and pogo sticks despite the fact that kids didn’t know what the hell they were and craved nothing but digital gadgets made by child slaves.
About the only good thing going for Santa was the raging pandemic. No toy run this year. He’d canceled it in the summer and took a lot of pounding on conservative talk radio and social media as a result. They screamed and stomped and dubbed him an essential worker who had to stay on the front lines and do his job.
Santa didn’t respond to the firestorm of criticism, but he was secretly relieved he didn’t have to deliver more useless crap to increasingly hostile and dumbed down people, particularly the Americans. What had happened to them? They once established the world’s first national park system, implemented the Marshall Plan, and rescued the bald eagle from extinction by banning DDT. They couldn’t do anything worthwhile anymore. They could fix nothing with themselves or their diseased body politic. Why? Why? Why? Santa didn’t know and he didn’t really give a shit anymore. All the virus meant to him was sitting at home and rereading the titans of Russian literature to ride out the holiday season.
If he could last that long.